(Frequently Asked Questions)

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Frequently asked questions about courier work.

At some time almost every courier needs help with something. And if you’re looking to start out as a courier then you’ve probably got lots of questions.

That’s why we decided to create a page where most of these questions can be answered simply and quickly. If there are any that can’t be answered quickly, we’ll try to guide you to where they can be answered in more depth.

Getting started as a courier is a fairly simple, and there are a lot of different options for which type of courier you want to be. You can do nationwide same-day deliveries, or local parcel deliveries, city centre messenger work on a bicycle or even deliver food.

If you want to start your own business and do the nationwide same-day deliveries in a van, then it’s going to cost a lot of money to get started. We’ve written a full article on how to be courier and succeed, plus we’ve also got videos available to help you work out some of the things you need to decide on when starting up.

Our reviewer, Stuart, recently put together a full review of the Courier Exchange platform which you can read on Couriers TV. In his opinion it is generally a good service, although there are some things to consider before joining. He rated CX at 4/5 which makes it the leader so far from the selection of courier work websites reviewed.

Read the full review of Courier Exchange here

Prices seem to change fairly regularly over the last couple of years but as of January 2022 the price to join CX as an owner-driver was at least £1,600 (inc VAT). 

The Courier Exchange (or CX as it’s often referred to) is just one of many courier work websites that connect couriers to each other to share any available delivery work.

Companies that need extra drivers to cover jobs can simply list the delivery required on the website and available drivers can provide prices for the work to be done.

CX is the most well known service in this sector. It has a large user-base and has developed an extensive website/app setup to support members, although it is also the most expensive of all the courier work-sharing services.

Okay let’s clear this up – there is NO set price per mile on the Courier Exchange – but what we’ve done is create a rates price guide based on rates we’ve seen for various van sizes when using platforms like CX, SDCN and more

The amount you can earn per mile for completing delivery work through CX is entirely down to your ability to do the job and what you can leverage in negotiation with the company selling the work.

If the load you are bidding on is urgent and there is nobody else around to compete with your bid, you will more than likely get a better rate.

Similarly, if there are lots of other drivers nearby bidding on the same load, the price tends to drop.

Expect prices to typically range anywhere from 0.60p per mile to £1.50 per mile depending on vehicle requirements, distance, urgency and availability of drivers. We have started tracking the CX Price data on a monthly basis – see more details on our statistics and surveys page.

This is a much discussed topic for couriers. And there isn’t a set answer. It’s really down to understanding your own operating costs, and what price your customers are willing to pay. For example, if you run a large van, it will cost more to operate (fuel costs etc) than a small van. But you can fit more in, so can charge more.
Also it depends whether you are sub-contracting for another transport company, or working direct with your own customer.

As a rough guide, retail prices (end customer, excl. VAT) are around:
Small Van £1.10
Medium Van £1.25
Large Van £1.40
Extra Large Van £1.50

Basic Sub-Contractor prices are around:
Small Van £0.8
Medium Van £0.9
Large Van £1.00
Extra Large Van £1.10

(Please note, the prices will vary regularly depending on a variety of factors. The period of Q2 and Q3 2021 has seen some of the best driver rates ever for courier work due to lack of HGV drivers causing more work to flow into the industry).

For most couriers, a simply ‘Price-per-loaded mile’ rate is calculated. This means you set a fixed rate for the size of vehicle you operate against the number of miles the delivery covers. For example: If you decide to charge £1/mile for a small van, and the delivery route is 100 miles from collection point to delivery point, then you would charge £100.

Many couriers use other factors such as zones and minimum charges to protect themselves from things like short journeys (if a delivery is only 2 miles, you don’t just want to charge £2) and deliveries into busy cities like London, where you can be stuck for hours in traffic and losing out on other work.

There are a lot of websites that you can join in order to find more courier work.

Most of them are bidding platforms, where delivery jobs are listed and drivers bid for the work. The type of work varies between the platforms, with some services offering more commercial delivery work (palletised goods to commercial premises etc) and others offering more private work (eBay type deliveries for private addresses).

Read our reviews of delivery work apps here to find more loads

The Same Day Courier Network, or SDCN for short, is a relative newcomer to this market, but has grown steadily since its launch. The website is slick and easy to use and the membership is growing all the time. Whilst the numbers of delivery jobs available on the platform is still low compared to CX, it may well be a valid competitor in years to come. It’s also much cheaper to join than CX, so well worth trying if you live in a busy area.

Read the full review of Same Day Courier Network here

Yes, specifically for your vehicle. Ordinary car or van insurance does not cover you for ‘Hire and Reward’, which is basically using your vehicle to earn money. You must contact an insurer that understands the work you want to do and they will provide a policy that allows you to use the van for delivery work.

Find out more from our Courier Insurance partners

You may also need business insurance and Public Liability protection. Speak to your broker for more advice.

Hire and reward courier insurance can be very expensive. It often relates to the size of vehicle/s you want to operate, the mileage you will be covering and the types of goods you intend to carry. As a guideline (2021) we would expect to pay over £1500 to insure a small van, up to around £3500 for a 4 metre (XLWB) van, based on new drivers without much commercial vehicle experience or No Claims Bonus.

Get Van Insurance Quotes here

Goods in Transit Insurance is pretty much what it says on the tin: It’s the protection you need in case the goods you’re carrying get damaged or lost, whilst in transit. You need to make sure that if the worst happens, you can afford to compensate your customer for the losses occurred by any accidents. Visit our Goods in Transit Insurance page for details and to get a quote

There’s not really a ‘best’ van overall. There are a lot of choices in the light commercial vehicle marketplace and you’ll need to decide what your needs are.

If you’re planning to run a small van, then you can choose things like a Ford Transit Connect or Citroen Berlingo. The mid-size van range has the larger Transit Custom, Vauxhall Vivaro and Peugeot Expert.

If you want to look at the biggest vans you can get (that can be driven on a standard B licence) then a lot of couriers choose either the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit or Citroen Relay.

The pros and cons of each make and model are different depending who you ask, so make sure to get a proper look and test drive before you spend any money.

Read more about delivery vehicles here

Disclaimer: We legally can’t recommend a specific make or model of vehicle, and anything we say should not be taken as buying advice.

We’ve personally had experience with Ford Transit L4s, Ford Transit Connects, Citroen Relay and Mercedes Sprinters – plus we speak to a lot of other drivers and get their opinions.

In general; The Citroen Relay/Peugeot Boxer is considered to have one of the more reliable engines. We had a 2008 version that we sold in 2017 that did more than 400,000 miles on the original engine. The build quality of the vans feels cheap in places, but if you don’t need luxury they can do a great job as a courier van.

The EU6 generation of Ford Transits have had issues with injectors and belts, but later models are getting better. Overall build quality is good and some have a lot of features. We found long motorway runs a breeze in a Trend model with cruise control.

Mercedes Sprinters can be fairly reliable, but some have been known to rust very quickly. Also, if/when Sprinters break, they can be expensive to repair – especially timing chain issues.

Top tips

The only things we would suggest to keep in mind when buying courier vehicles;

  • If you can afford to buy new, then it might be worth doing so in order to get a good warranty that will cover you against any major faults.
  • If buying second-hand, try to get the lowest mileage vehicle you can and aim for something that is still in a manufacturer warranty if possible.
  • In the end, ALL vans are working machines and at risk of failures. Sometimes it’s down to luck whether you have a lot of problems or none at all. You can reduce the risk by performing regular checks and proper maintenance.
  • Consider van rental instead. It’s a higher monthly cost, but as long as you look after the van, any serious mechanical issues are dealt with by the hire company. They will swap out your vehicle for a replacement and you keep driving.

A fuel card is basically like a limited type of credit card. It allows you to pay for fuel at filling stations that accept that particular type of card.

Many fuel card providers offer account services so that you can fill up your vehicle and only pay for the fuel either days or weeks later. This will help your cashflow depending on how you charge your customers. Fuel cards can reduce the cost of fuel by a few pence-per-litre.

Find out more from our Fuel Cards page

Any other questions?

Hopefully our FAQs have covered any questions you wanted to ask. There should be an answer to almost anything you need to know about courier work here on CTV, but if you can’t find something then just contact us and we’ll do our best to help you.

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